Should You Tell All?

You may be so overjoyed at adopting a child that you want to tell everyone everything. But remember, your child's adoption story is theirs to tell, not yours.

Your child's adoption story is an important part of who they are

The thrill of finally receiving a referral may prompt parents to tell everything they know about their new child. But how much of your baby’s adoption story should you tell? The answer is, very little.

It’s not your story; it’s your child’s. Small as he is at the moment, he has a right to his history. With that in mind, adoption professionals and experienced parents offer these tips for protecting your child’s privacy.

Even the very young deserve privacy. When your child reaches an age of understanding, she will want to know how she came into the world and into your family. It is absolutely imperative that she hears her adoption story directly from her parents, told in a loving and supportive manner.

If others outside the immediate family know details, a child could hear sensitive information elsewhere. A child who discovers that strangers know more about him than he knows about himself will be confused and upset. When information leaves the nuclear family, parents lose control of its path.

Make an exception for doctors. Any information about a child’s medical history can be shared with a pediatrician. The sanctity of the doctor/patient relationship ensures that the information will be held in confidence. The doctor should be updated from time to time about what has been told to the child as he matures.

Another exception should be made for the adoption agency or professional who assisted in the placement. This is an appropriate venue in which to discuss sensitive facts and to consider their meaning in a family’s life.

Keep it general. Most people aren’t willfully prying. General information — such as what state or country the child was born in — will often suffice. You might also speak generally about the social or economic conditions that lead to adoption. More specific questions can be avoided by feigning ignorance or requesting privacy. Positive language and a relaxed tone can deflect hurt feelings.

Remember, it is your child’s story. Your job is to hold onto it until he is ready to hear it. Once it’s in his possession, he will choose what to keep to himself and what to pass along.


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